Monday, January 18, 2010

Globalisation visualized: map of world ports and links

The blog of MIT Technology Review pointed out an interesting article on world's sea transportation. A research team at Carl-von-Ossietzky Universität (Germany) generated graphs from statistics outline the hubs and spokes in marine traffic. This visualization captures globalization in pictures describing how goods flow between continents and how this unique dispersed infrastructure has been built. One of the main contributions of statistical analysis in this paper is demonstrating evidence to that world maritime network follows typical network patterns: "Viewing the ports as nodes in a network linked by ship journeys, we found that global cargo shipping, like many other complex networks investigated in recent years, possesses the small world property as well as broad degree and weight distributions." For those how are familiar with sixth degree of separation, the average link in shipping industry is only 2.5 connections. The TOP10 harbor list ranks as follows:

  1. Panama Canal
  2. Suez Canal
  3. Shanghai
  4. Singapore
  5. Antwerp
  6. Piraeus
  7. Terneuzen
  8. Plaquemines
  9. Houston
  10. Ijmuiden

In my opinion, this paper has great novelty. According to MIT TR blog this "despite carrying 90% of the planet's trade, nobody has mapped the network of links between the world's ports". The original research can be accessed in full paper:

Pablo Kaluza, Andrea Kölzsch, Michael T. Gastner, Bernd Blasius (2010). The complex network of global cargo ship movements. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. (fortcoming) Full PDF here.

MIT Technology Review Blog link

BR, Petri